Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you might be more qualified than you boss?
Well, you might be right. People got promoted for lots of reasons, not all of which have to do with their qualifications. Your boss could have gotten the position because of seniority, because of years of experience, or maybe it’s even the result of politics.
It could also be that your definition of “qualified” is different than that of the people who promoted your boss. Maybe your boss has education, credentials, or a work history that you’re unaware of. Or even if your boss doesn’t have the technical expertise, maybe he or she has the softer leadership skills required to manage a team of more qualified employees.
No matter the reason, working under someone who you don’t think is qualified can be a frustrating experience. So what do you do? Do you take your irritation out on your boss, complain to your coworkers, and potentially harm your career? Or do you just make the most of an annoying situation?
The choice of how to deal with an under-qualified boss is all yours.
Don’t take it personally: You may never know why your boss was promoted to his or her position despite the apparent lack of qualifications – but it most likely wasn’t as a personal slight to you. Remember that your career isn’t a zero-sum game: your future successes won’t be canceled out by your boss’s current position.
Learn from your boss: Even if you feel your boss is less qualified than you, try to find something to learn from her. Is she great at sales? A networking genius? A talented project manager? If you shift your focus from obsessing about your boss’s lack of qualifications, you may be surprised by what she can teach you.
Stay positive: If you feel like your work situation is unfair, it can be easy to become negative or combative. But try to keep a positive outlook instead of letting your attitude turn sour. Remember: being a disgruntled employee won’t get you anywhere, and might even ruin any chance you have at a promotion later.
Don’t badmouth your boss: Badmouthing your boss is a terrible habit to get into. It’s not only unprofessional, but it can strain your relationship and harm your career if word gets back. Complaining can also bring down your morale, dragging you deeper into hating your situation rather than figuring out how to make it work.
Lend a hand when needed: Sometimes your boss may need help with things that you’re an expert in. Don’t let your frustration get in the way of working together as a team toward the good of the organization. If your boss has questions, or would benefit from your help, lend a hand.
But don’t keep covering for your boss’s mistakes: I’m not suggesting you out your boss, or try to bring him down, but it shouldn’t be up to you to take the fall or constantly cover for your boss’s lack of knowledge. If you do, you’re setting a dangerous precedent that will hurt not only your own career, but could hurt the organization.
Whatever you do, keep the focus on your own career
Sure, you may be frustrated by your work situation right now, but don’t let that derail your entire career – and certainly don’t waste all your energy and career capital trying to bring down your boss. Instead, if your current situation isn’t working, look for ways that you can advance your career – whether that’s additional professional development, mentoring, or expressing your interest in other positions within the company.
In the end, you’re the only one who can advance your career. Letting your frustrations with your boss hold you back won’t solve the problem in the short run, and definitely won’t help you in the long.
Have you ever had a boss who was less qualified than you? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments.